Tourism Prospects of Bangladesh
Mohammad Navid Safiullah
Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Spain
Tourism is one of the worlds’ fastest growing industries. It entails activities and services associated with transportation, accommodation, food, shopping, entertainment and hospitality services available for the travellers. Tourism is a major source of income generation and foreign exchange earnings in many countries. It creates ample job opportunities and plays a pivotal role in country branding.With the advent of today’s globalization, immense technological advancement,socio-demographic factors and rapid urbanization, the tourism sector is changing fast.Hence it has become multi-dimensional.UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization) defines Tourism as“the activities of the persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes”.
“Seeing is believing”. When it comes to spectacular landscape and rich cultural heritage, Bangladesh is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. Lonely Planet, world’s leading travel guide publisher ranked Bangladesh as the best value destination for 2011. Bangladesh is also branded by the Lonely Planet as a can do country of open hearted people, tigers, tea plantations and the world’s longest sea beach by the tourists. Mr. Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO Chief attended the Buddhist Circuit in Dhaka which was held from 27-28 October 2015. In an interview with a leading English newspaper “The Daily Star “, he opined that “Tourism is about showing the best of a country, celebrating what it has; and what I see in Bangladesh is particularly the rich diversity of culture and people which is very remarkable and unique”.
Since ancient times, numerous travelers from across the world have been visiting Bangladesh to explore its matchless beauty. Ibn Battuta, an eminent Moroccan Muslim scholar and also the greatest traveller of all times was spellbound by the panoramic view of Bangladesh. It was deftly portrayed in his famous narrative “Rihla”. “Amar Sonar Bangla, Ami Tomaye Bhalobashi” (My Golden Bengal, I love you), a timeless song and National Anthem of Bangladesh composed by the renowned Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore represents the stunning beauty of Bangladesh.
Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer,” goes a popular saying. Being located in a geo-strategic position near India, China and ASEAN region, Bangladesh offers myriads of eye-catching scenic and archaeological sites, ethnic diversity, unique cuisine, rich cultural heritage and much more to grab tourist’s attraction. Presence of a large number of rivers enhances its aesthetic beauty manifold. Cox’s Bazar, the longest unbroken sea beach in the world possessesstretches of golden sands, towering cliffs, surfing waves, rare conch shells, gorgeous pagodas, Buddhist temples, tribes and delectable sea-food. Sundarbans (Beautiful Forest) on the other hand, is the largest mangrove forest in the world and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It provides a unique eco-system and a splendid wildlife habitat. Sundarbans is also home to majestic Royal Bengal Tigers and gorgeous spotted deer.
Situated in the southern tip of Bangladesh, Kuakata is the only sea beach in the world which gives the holiday makers a rare opportunity to witness both sunrise and sunset with its full splendour. Saint Martin’s is the only coral island of Bangladesh with beaches encircled with coconut palms and abundant marine life.Fabulous lush green tea gardens in Sylhet provide a soothing effect in the tourists’ mind.
The Bandarban hill district situated on the southwest rim of the Myanmar hill range is an epitome of beauty. Breathtaking mountains full of green foliage, dazzling flowers, luminous valleys covered with dense forests, enchanting lake, springs and waterfalls add great value to its natural surroundings. Tourists are bound to enjoy the overwhelming natural ambiance and the vibrant tribal life here. Nilgiri, Boga lake, Golden Temple Chimbook Hills are a must see tour. Trekking to the hilltop (3,800 feet high) is also a thrilling experience.
The Wetlands of Bangladesh have been immortalized by many litterateurs for their immense beauties. Tanguar Haor at Sunamganj, one of the largest wetlands (haors) of Asia is unique for its bio-diversity. HakalukiHaor at Moulvibazar, is a Ramsar site of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) while Cholon Beel is the largest wetland of Bangladesh. These wetlands abound in floras and faunas. The socio-economic valuation of the wetlands is enormous.
Bangladesh is replete with rich archaeological wealth. Among them, Paharpur Buddhist Vihara in Naogaon, the relics of Somapura Mahavihara, a Buddhist monastery in Mainamati, Comilla Mahasthangarh in Bogra one of the most important Buddhist archaeological place, the remnants of an ancient city deserve special mention. All these sites possess a rare collection of artifacts, terracotta objects and many other relics. Apart from these, Shat Gambuj Mosque in Bagerhat- a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka- one of the finest architectural landmark of Mughal structure, Panam City Sonargaon in Narayanganj- once capital of Bengal, Uttara Gonobhaban in Natore- once the Royal Palace of the Great Kings of Dighapatia, Baliati Prasad in Manikganj, Bagha Mosque in Rajshahi, Idrakpur Fort in Munshigonj, Jorbangla Temple in Pabna, Kantajir Temple in Dinajpur, Muktagacha Zaminder Bari in Mymensingh and Puthia Palace in Rajshahi are noteworthy. The spectacular monuments and mausoleums of the Language movement and the Liberation War of Bangladesh are also a must visit.
Some International travellers shared their experience on recent visit to Bangladesh. All of them were optimistic about tourism prospects of Bangladesh. “I have become a great fan of Bangladesh. Here people are sincere, friendly, hospitable and resilient. They are happy with what they have”. Mr. Simon Reeves, an eminent British writer and television anchor made this remark during his visit to Bangladesh.
Mr. Joel Vincent, a young Kiwi musician organized Bangladesh tour only for a week. Captivated by its exotic landscapes and cultural diversity, he extended the trip up to more than a month.
Mr. Miguel Macias, the Leader of a delegation from Spain comprising twenty seven foreign tourists opined “Bangladeshis a land of never-ending hospitality. People of this country can draw others near very easily. Nobody knows us here, but offers us tea saying “would you like to have a cup of tea? “Bangladesh has no Tajmahal or Rajasthan, but it offers pristine natural beauties, charming rivers, breathtaking mangrove forest and many more. Touristswill experience the spirit of life everywhere in this country. Hence Bangladesh maybe regarded as the Land of Life, he summed up.
Swedish citizen Jenny Gustafson works for a News Agency in Lebanon. Fascinated by its charming view, he wrote an excellent blog titled “From A to Z – what to love about Bangladesh”. In this blog, he has given a vivid description of the tourist attractions. It will certainly encourage other globe trotters to visit this beautiful land in near future.
Mr. Bruce, a US national travelled around different places of Bangladesh last year during his vacation. In his blog,the Sundarbans turned out to be the most beautiful and Srimangal as the most comfortable place in the world. He also explored the panoramic view of the Saint Martin’s, the only Coral island of Bangladesh and the splendid green hilly terrains of Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Mr. Renaud, a French youth who works as a Creative Director for an Event Management Company in France recently visited Bangladesh. He bought two package tours from “Trip to Bangladesh” a travel agency; one for Srimangal and the other for Barisal. To him, Bangladeshi people are honest, most hospitable and the best in the world. One day while roaming around in Srimangal, his money fell on the street. A person returned it to him as soon as it came to his notice. Mr. Renaud was utterly surprised by the integrity of that person. On another occasion, this French vacationer drank several cups of tea and smoked cigarettes in a village tea stall. The shopkeeper refused to accept the bill as he was a foreign guest. The generosity of that tea stall owner deeply touched him. He promised to write about Bangladesh after returning to France.
Bangladesh has immense potentials to exploit its tourism sector. With a view to flourishing this industry, the government has declared the year 2016 as ‘Tourism Year’. For successful implementation of this mega project, initiatives have been taken to gradually increase the number of international tourists to approximately 10 lakh and income from this sector to US$200 million by 2018 through improving the facilities of tourist interest at different places. As part of this endeavour, they will offer special discounts and benefits for the inbound foreign and domestic tourists during 2016
An integrated plan has also been formulated for development of tourism in Cox’s Bazar,Teknaf, St. Martin and Moheshkhali.The government has already approved Sundarban Tourism Policy. The purpose is to transform it into an ideal eco-tourism hub. Apart from that, it has also opened Bangabandhu Sheikh MujibSafari Park at Gazipur and Sheikh Russel Aviary and Eco Park in Chittagongwell-matched with the global standard. Ongoing projects are there to beautify Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Uttara lakes and convert them as amusement areas.
Acquisition of around 1000 acres of land for construction of Sabrang Exclusive Tourist Zone (ETZ) in Tekna adjacent to Cox’s Bazar sea-beach under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project is in progress to attract foreign tourists. The proposed ETZ will feature hotels, cottages, beach villas, leisure amenities a casino, night clubs, a convention hall and an amusement park. A feasibility study of the project will be conducted shortly. Many foreign companies have shown their keenness to invest in Sabrang. Construction of a marine drive road in the area is ongoing. A four-lane road would also be developed to reach the zone. Once implemented, it is expected to bring about a qualitative change in the tourism sector of Bangladesh. To facilitate the international tourists through direct air connectivity, the development work of Cox’s Bazar airport is going on in full swing. In addition, up gradation of Hazrat Shahajalal International Airport are progressing fast to provide the international passengers with improved services and facilities. Toincrease the number of passengers’, expand overseas air connectivity and also to improve service standard of Bangladesh Biman, the process of adding several new generation aircrafts to its fleet is underway. To this end, a total of four tourism and aviation related projects will be implemented under Public Private Partnership (PPP) during the next fiscal year.
With its pristine natural beauty, ancient relics and indomitable hospitality, Bangladesh is well poised to become an amazing tourist destination in the days to come. thediplomatinspain
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